The New York legislature has proposed Assembly Bill A7284, also known as the Wandering Officers Act, which would ban previously fired officers from getting rehired.
The bill, which applies to officers fired in and out of state, would also ban hiring officers who resign from a previous position during a disciplinary investigation that could lead to their termination.
The bill’s sponsor Sen. Brian Benjamin told WABC, “What this bill basically says is any cop that has been fired, either within state and within police jurisdiction, or from a police jurisdiction out of state, you cannot be hired in New York state.”
In a tweet, Benjamin insisted that the bill would “keep abusive officers off our streets.”
According to WABC, similar bills have been introduced in New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
New York civil rights and criminal defense attorney Joel Berger said that currently New York police departments can “enable” wandering officers and hopes the bill will hold bad cops accountable. He also added that there is still work to be done outside of the bill.
Berger urged lawmakers to amend state law Section 891 to require police disciplinary cases to be tried by an independent tribunal instead of police departments citing a lack of objectivity.
“If the disciplinary body was truly objective, you would find a lot of folks who currently get … slapped on the wrist would actually be suspended for long periods of time or even fired,” he said.
The Police Benevolent Association agreed with the bill but would like to see less negativity expressed in the bill’s language.
The president of the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York Patrick Lynch said in a statement to ABC News, “New York City police officers aren’t interested in serving alongside a cop whose conduct got him fired someplace else. In fact, this bill should apply to every public employee in the state. But the bill sponsors should also make it clear that this is not a rampant problem with police officers in New York.”
Both the union and Berger agree that smaller communities with less funding that cannot conduct in-depth background checks on officers will benefit from the law.